Tuesday, October 17, 2017

October 17 – “Greasing the wheels …”

Chris took a huge step forward today toward completing the numerous projects she has started around the house.  The main one concerns the coffee table Nathan made for her.  She finally picked out the stain she wants, and worked most of the day on getting a first coat applied.  That necessitated a trip to WalMart to get a few more brushes and some polyurethane to seal the whole thing once she is finished with the staining.  It already looks really nice.  Can’t wait to see the finished product.

Speaking of WalMart, I found the primary piece of the costume I have planned for this year’s Halloween outreach party.  Can’t tell you yet what the final product will look like, but I will be the personification of Hurricane Harvey.  Oh, and here’s another hint … there is also a literary allusion involved.  Unveiling to come …

After grabbing the staining supplies, some dog food, and some groceries we needed, we headed over to Randall’s to pick up the produce and some stamps.  Much better quality produce than WalMart’s.  We also grabbed some bacon.  WalMart was pretty low on the brand Chris prefers.  As it turned out that was a good choice.  As we checked out we discovered that the bacon was worth “4X gas points.”  Not sure what that meant at the time, but we did need some gas, so we headed over to the Randall’s pump.  And to our surprise we were treated to 20 cents per gallon off the regular price.  We may have to shop at Randall’s more often. 

Not much else to tell about yesterday.  I worked on the sermon for a few hours.  I also went up to the bank to get some Visa gift cards for hurricane relief use.  We were given a lower fee rate because the cards were for hurricane relief ministry by the church. 

Speaking of gift cards, we got some WalMart gift cards while we were there.  Since I needed to get ten of them, I went to the customer service desk to take care of it.  Good thing.  There were not one, but two customer service managers standing around just waiting for me to walk up.  And no other customers in line, either.  How does that ever happen at WalMart?  Between the two of them, they figured out how to do what needed to be done, and the whole process didn’t take more than five or ten minutes.  Amazing what happens when ministry is involved. 

1 John 4:1-3 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  This is how you can recognize the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world.”

Father, thank you for greasing the wheels over at the bank and at WalMart so we could get those gift cards.  Use them to draw some folks closer to you.  Amen.

Monday, October 16, 2017

October 16 – “Appreciation”

We had a substitute preacher at Seaside yesterday.  Some kid named Kel.  The regular guy wasn’t there.  More about that in a second.  From the online and over-the-phone feedback available, it sounds like the substitute did a pretty good job.  Something about the book of Job and knowing God is good and God is all-powerful.  And our resident emcee Bob got good reviews as well, not to mention the music selections put together by Bryan.  Thanks to those guys things seemed to have gone pretty well.  I know the regular guy appreciates knowing that.

Speaking of that regular guy, where was he?  Well, he was at First Baptist Church, Port Bolivar.  He was invited to be the guest speaker at a surprise “October Pastor Appreciation plus Tenth Anniversary Celebration” for long-time Seasider, now pastor there, Dennis Allen.  Interesting morning.  When we arrived we were ushered clandestinely into a back room to wait for our cue.  When they had Dennis firmly sequestered in a different room (he had tried to cut his own hair the day before, so someone offered to “fix it” for him), we were released to go into the church.  Chris sat on the front row … in someone else’s seat.  Yep, she was asked to move over a few seats.  Oops.  I had to sit on the podium in Dennis’ seat.  See, the idea was that he wouldn’t have to do anything in the service but sit there and enjoy worship.  I wasn’t sure how he would take that, since I’m sure he spent plenty of time preparing a sermon for the day.  Oh, and I was also told the night before that I would also be leading their communion part of the service.  Seems Dennis had set that all up as part of his plan for worship for the day. 

I’m pretty sure he was surprised to see us.  He walked into the worship center and saw Chris first.  After racing over to give her a hug, he turned and saw me sitting in his seat.  Another hug.  I ushered him to a seat on the front row next to Chris and I sat on the other side of her.  Never have liked sitting in those Bishop’s chairs on the stage.  The service went pretty well.  A guy who had been their music leader for a long time had also returned for the day, so he led in three songs.  Their current worship leader and three other ladies sang some songs as a quartet.  Another lady read a touching tribute to Dennis.  They helped me through “their way” of doing communion.  It took a while but they even started answering my questions after I gave them permission to speak out in church (one little boy in particular did especially well).  My favorite moment came when I asked, “What delights you?”  The first really loud answer I could hear?  “When Altuve came sliding into home last night.”  That’s what I like to hear.  Another baseball fan. 

After the service we adjourned into their fellowship hall for a baked potato lunch.  Except for Dennis.  He is on a diabetic diet, so he doesn’t eat potatoes.  Instead they placed a huge steak in front of him.  With a side of boiled shrimp.  And some kind of pea salad that is apparently his favorite.  Some individuals gave him thoughtful gifts, and the church presented him with a card and a check.  Then they went around the room and gave everyone a chance to say some words of thanks and encouragement to Dennis for his ministry there.  He responded in kind, and even said he appreciated me for being his father in the ministry.  All in all it was a very nice experience for him. 

And then we got in the ferry line to come back home.  And we waited.  And we waited.  It took us two hours to get back, and the line in Galveston waiting to go that way was even worse.  So much for being in the off season. 

1 John 3:24 says, “Those who obey his commands live in him, and he in them. And this is how we know that he lives in us: We know it by the Spirit he gave us.”

Father, thank you for Dennis and for his ministry and the lives he has touched.  Make him happy.  Amen.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

October 15 – “In spite of Google Siri”

I officiated another wedding yesterday.  This one was for one of the fire fighters and his fiancĂ© (Hey, I just typed in that last word and spell check put an accent mark on it.  But is it supposed to have two “e’s” at the end?  I never took French).  The ceremony was at the gazebo of the Green Events Center in Friendswood.  When I typed that into my Google maps app, I got a rather rude message.  It said somethings along the lines of, “This venue is closed today, so you would be wasting your time trying to find it.”  Huh.  I actually had to bypass the message and force it to tell me where I wanted to go.  I think Google Siri is getting a little too feisty, a little too independent for her own good.

The venue was a very pretty one, once I was allowed to find it.  The wedding was a very small one.  Maybe fifty people.  They asked me to add something to the ceremony that I have never done in a ceremony before.  They wanted to repeat the handfasting experience I had them undergo during their pre-marriage counseling.  It worked out pretty well, I guess.  We just tied their hands together before starting the vows.  Then I added the explanation of the rope before continuing on to the rings.  They seemed happy enough with how it turned out. 

The reception was inside the events center.  There was one other fire fighter and his wife there.  Fortunately I knew them, and they let me join them at their table.  The food was good.  Interesting, but really good.  Some kind of vegetable looking things on shish-ki-bob sticks (or however you spell that).  Fried apples. I recognized the little baby barbeque sandwiches.  What do they call those nowadays?  Sliders?  Never could figure out where that name came from, unless it refers to how the food tends to slide out from between the tiny slices of roll.  I didn’t go for the pepper poppers.  Another strange name.  I did get some of the macaroni and cheese, though.  How could I not?  It had some crumbly stuff on top, accompanied by … bacon.  Very good stuff. 

I’m sure they took some pictures at the gazebo, but the majority were taken inside the reception room.  After everyone had a chance to eat, the photographer began calling up people by name who he wanted in each picture.  After all the family photos were done, they did an “everyone else who showed up” picture.  I got dragged into that one, and then they added one with just me right before I headed home.  Sweet couple.  They are headed to Maui for a honeymoon. 

I managed to get home moments before the first pitch of the Astros game.  And that’s how I spent the rest of the afternoon, glued to the TV, watching an amazing pitching performance by Verlander and an exciting walk-off victory.  Gotta love those Astros.

1 John 3:23 says, “And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.”

Father, be with Adam and Allison as they begin the new part of the journey.  Amen.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

October 14 – “Reunion”

We started this week’s “day off” by delivering some donated gift cards to the Wyrick family.  Not that they personally needed them, though.  They have taken on several big hurricane relief projects helping out two Muslim families and some others in the Dickinson area.   The cards will help them with sheetrock and other supplies as they begin to enter that phase of the rebuilding process.  Pretty proud of that family.

Speaking of gift cards, I went by the church’s bank to see what their recommendation was concerning getting some more gift cards to distribute.  They had a really easy process in place and even said they would waive a good portion of the fee.  I’ll get by there probably early next week to get that taken care of.  Thanks, Texas First Bank.  Great to have another Harvey Relief partner. 

While we were out we stopped at Randall’s.  I’ve been getting those reminder phone calls about a prescription being ready.  Come to find out there were two.  One I did know about, but it wasn’t supposed to kick in until the end of the month.  The other was for a drug the neck doc mentioned in passing before he nixed it.  When he found out I could make the pain and tingling happen on command (well, on positioning of my head), he knew that drug would be inappropriate.  We didn’t take it.  We did find some coffee on sale there, though.  Sumatra.  So far it’s the only kind that both of us can agree on wholeheartedly.  Good stuff.

Last night we went to the “camp reunion” party for the ones who went on the Moses Trip.  Yes, I know.  It was just a week ago.  Kinda quick for a reunion.  But, hey, everyone was able to be there.  Cathy and Lauren put together a great camp awards presentation.  Everyone received an award of some kind, tailored to the specific contribution each made to our trip experience.  Let me see how many I can remember.  
Lauren got a “Julie the Cruise Director” flag to carry on our next trip so we can find, and presumably follow, her in a crowd.  
Cathy was recognized as the behind the scenes planner and received the Best Mom Ever award.  
Jennifer’s uncanny ability to sleep – anywhere – will certainly be helped along by her gift, a sleep mask.  
Dianne, who led us in worship songs each morning, received a karaoke microphone so we could hear her better.  
Navigator Bryan, who stayed awake and recharged everyone’s cell phones in the van, received a coffee cup and a toy cell phone that is in constant need of charging.  
For Bob it was a tiny globe, so he can find all the friends he makes from everywhere by telling them that he and God love them and there’s not a thing they can do about it.  
Sam, who smoked us all in the trivia game coming home, received the Useless Knowledge Award and a book of such random information that will make her even more untouchable on our next excursion.   

The next two of our number I couldn’t remember for sure.  
Now Amber’s I’m sure must have had something to do with her newfound love of all things zip-lining.  Or not.  
And Suzann’s probably had something to do with that slick way she had of talking us into doing things, like zip lining and riding the rapids.  

Even Ed, who couldn’t make the trip, was honored for letting us use his trailer.  
Our superstar Bill received some Hollywood sunglasses and his very own kitty cat apron to forever memorialize his riverboat moment in the spotlight.  
Chris got the High Flying Eagle Award.  Something about the sounds she made on the zip line, I think.  Naw, it was more about how inspirational she is to everyone around her. She got a tiny little loving cup with an eagle on it and a very nice plaque with the Bible verse on Mounting up with wings as eagles.  
I received an award and accompanying gifts as well.  A king sized PayDay (peanut caramel bar).  A bag of peanuts.  And a tiny little loving cup with musical notes on it and a ginormous acorn inside it.  I can’t figure out the significance of my presentation.  What could all those things possibly have to do with my contribution to our trip?  I really didn’t do much of anything except maybe sing a certain little happy ditty wake up song every morning.  Oh, and there was that time I was overcome with emotion and frolicked in the field behind our house in the mountains singing “the hills are alive with the sound of music.”  Sigh.  It’s nice to have friends who love me.  And appreciate my music.

1 John 3:17-18 says, “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him?  Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.”

Father, thank you for the Wyrick’s dedication to serve people in your name.  And thank you for the laughter and hugs of friends.  Amen.

Friday, October 13, 2017

October 13 – “Using what you have …”

We journeyed out to the church yesterday.  We picked up some supplies for the fire department’s crisis closet they are developing.  While we were there, a couple who are fairly new to Jamaica Beach called and then stopped by.  They wanted to turn in a Bethlehem Street Market vendor application.  They also had some items they wanted to drop off for the relief efforts.  Seems the last place they donated to just put the items in a store to sell.  They really wanted to see the donations go directly to people who need it.  That should be easy to accomplish in this case.  They brought in several bedding sets, sheets and even some quilts.  That’s just the sort of thing that people are beginning to need in the Alvin ministry area. 

As I headed outside to change the outdoor sign at the church to mark the date of our upcoming Fall Festival (October 21st, 4-8 p.m.), Chris noticed that the group who was in the retreat center last had left its church name banner hanging outside.  I went up to take it down and was highly impressed with the creativity and ingenuity they had used.  Apparently they didn’t have any rope to use to tie it on, so they improvised.  What I found was the sign, quite adequately attached to the railing, with garbage bags.  Great use of the tools at your disposal, guys. 

When we got back home I did something that I have come to regret.  In fact I have come to regret it every time I do it as of late.  I mowed and edged the grass.  The mowing part is really not all that bad.  That machine drives itself, so it’s just a matter of keeping up.  The real problem comes with the weedeater.  Something about the combination of the angle I hold it plus the weight of the machine plus the vibrations when I turn it on, all works together to do a serious number on my neck.  A shower and an unplanned nap in my chair helped some, and I did sleep pretty well last night.  I’m curious to see what the doc has to say about it.  Appointment next Tuesday.  Stay tuned.

1 John 3:16 says, “This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

Father, thank you for the evidences of creativity that abound around us every day.  Makes me think of you.  Amen.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

October 12 – “And so it continues”

We woke yesterday to some wintry weather here on the Island.  The wind was blowing and the temperature had plummeted all the way into the low 70’s.  Terrible, just terrible.  It has worked its way back up to the mid-70’s this morning, though, and by mid-afternoon it should add ten or more degrees to that figure.  Much more like a Galveston Thursday afternoon in the Fall. 

The hurricane relief efforts are still continuing.  In fact, I got word that the Jamaica Janes out in Jamaica Beach joined forces with Seaside to get the remaining donations organized and boxed up for the trip to the Alvin ministry grounds.  Looks like they did an awful lot of work, too.  It is great to have yet another hurricane relief partner stepping up.  Thank you, Jamaica Janes.

We got a call yesterday afternoon from Nathan.  Seems he had some AC workers over at his house who wanted us to come check out their work.  It was none other than Lynn and Jim from church and Lynn’s son.  They were cleaning out Nathan’s AC vents and coils, because April has been smelling some mold.  Looks like it took them the better part of the day.  Guess we’ll see how it all turned out when April’s sensitive nose got home. 

While I worked on a sermon for Sunday, Chris headed out on an adventure in Texas.  She is searching for another quilt shop.  Sadly, the one she has been using was in Dickinson, and was flooded out during Hurricane Harvey.  She already had several quilts in process, so she needed to find some other material to get some things finished.  She went to one that she knew about in Texas City, but apparently their stock wasn’t all that great.  She said there was supposed to be one in Lake Jackson, too, but that one may be in as bad a shape as the one in Dickinson.  Ah, the trials and tribulations of an avid quilter in the flooded wilderness.  She did manage to make her way to Hobby Lobby.  That was for an entirely different project she’s working on, though.  Results to be announced.

1 John 3:14 says, “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death.”

Father, thank you for the hearts of ministry that stepped up to work at the church the other day.  Bless them all for their efforts.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

October 11 – “On MRI’s and Tire Miracles”

MRI day.  Not really a big deal as far as handling the test itself.  I’m not particularly claustrophobic as long as I have an idea of how long to expect to be inside.  I usually sing to myself.  Well, right up until I start dozing off.  I know that sounds weird to others who have had MRI’s before.  See, it gets really loud inside that chamber when they start turning on the magnets or whatever it is that rattles around.  Oh, and this one was a two-parter.  One round to get a baseline image.  Then they pulled me out, stuck a needle full of dye in my arm, and wheeled me back inside for another go.  I hope they got all they needed for an accurate diagnosis. 

The good news, if there is good news here, came when I went to pay the bill.  We have a medical share plan so we have to pay up front.  I had already asked for an estimate based on whatever discount they give for cash pay customers.  Even had the little post-it note the girl wrote it on last week when I had the regular x-rays done.  She apparently made an error in the estimate, though.  She forgot to include the price of the MRI with the dye.  Since it was their mistake, I only had to pay what I expected … at that time.  She assured me that a bill for the remainder would be forthcoming.  Thank you … I think.

Tire replacement day.  When we got home I aired up the flat on the truck and took it to Firestone, where we bought the tires back in 2014.  The guy who checked me in gave me the estimate of how much it would cost for the two offending tires.  Worst case scenario would be two brand new tires plus the road hazard warranties we always get.  Cost?  Approximately $300.  I knew one was completely gone.  It had a huge hole in the side.  I was hoping the other would just be a flat repair.

I received the call to come pick it up a little before six.  Of course they had the usual, “Here’s all the extra work that needs to be done” spiel as well.  He ased where I wanted the two new tires to be placed on the truck.  That’s when I queried, “So I thought maybe one of the tires would just be a flat repair?”  Long silence.  He asked to put me on hold.  Long hold.  When he came back he said there must have been some kind of missed communication on their end.  There was no evidence that anyone had even checked the tire for a flat.  As a result they were going to just give me the new tire they put on that rim.  No charge for it at all, other than the new road hazard warranty.  I graciously accepted.  Wouldn’t you? 

Chris dropped me off at Firestone and headed on to Ladies Bible Study at church.  I saw that the truck was still in the bay.  The guy at the counter started typing in all the info about the new tires, chatting all the while about how I had been coming to Firestone for a long time and apologizing over and over again for the mixup.  Suddenly, he blurted out, “Wait a minute.  No way.  Wait a minute.”  So I waited a minute.  “No, this isn’t right at all.  I’m going to have to redo this whole thing.”  Well, there was no hoping that he was talking about someone else.  I was the only other person in the office.  He continued with a mixture of muttering and apologizing and pleasant chatter.  “You don’t drive this truck much, do you?  You’ve put just 8,000 miles on them since you bought them in 2014 … And you have the 40,000 mile warranty ... So that means I have to do the warranty papers on the other tire ... Man, I’m so sorry for the mixup … let me just put this here … and this over here … and change this to that.”  He went on and on like that for a good five or ten minutes.  Finally he pointed to the screen.  “Here is your charge today for the road hazard warranty on both new tires.  And here is the actual prorated charge for the tire that blew out since you had the warranty.  And here is your final total.  You gonna leave that on your Firestone charge?”  I could hardly believe my eyes.  Instead of the anticipated $300, the total bill for two brand new tires?  $65.78.  Umm.  Wow.

1 John 3:11 says, “This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.”

Father, thank you for small miracles in the realm of tire repair.  Amen.